This article appeared in what turned out to be the last ever issue of The Word magazine, in August 2012. As my own infatuation with pop had begun with Brian Epstein’s Liverpool acts, such as Cilla and The Beatles, almost 50 years before, I felt this was an apt occasion to bow out of music journalism.

 

 

Trim, chipper and chatty, Cilla Black shimmies around her kitchen deciding between tea, coffee and champagne. She plumps for the fizz, then curls up on a sofa in the living room. But over the next 90 minutes she scarcely takes a sip. Maybe it’s a prop. Or perhaps she just talks too much.

She gabs and laughs, and laughs some more. She’s back, she says, from two weeks in Barbados. It was her 69th birthday. Last night she was on the town with “Savage”, which is what she calls her friend Paul O’Grady (the alter ego of Lily). Cilla’s small talk is like that. It’s a world where Ringo is “Ritchie” and The Beatles are “the Boys”. Even Lulu is “Lu”.

We’re in a flat in central London. She used to share it with her husband of 30 years, Bobby Willis, until his death in 1999. Now she’s a grandmother and looking, you would have to say, every inch on top of her game.

Cilla swam into the nation’s consciousness nearly 50 years ago. She sang smart pop hits that were crafted for her by Lennon and McCartney. She seemed in effect to be The Beatles’ Little Sister. Her set took in some very hip material by Burt Bacharach and Randy Newman, who both remain admirers. (So were the Elvises Presley and Costello.) But in the later 1960s, as pop turned psychedelic and hard rock ruled, Cilla stuck with showbiz. And the telly transformed her into Scousewife Superstar.

Her first manager Brian Epstein doted on her. Almost the last act of his life was to negotiate a BBC TV series (Macca wrote its theme song). But now she maintains she is prouder of her music – most of it made with George Martin at Abbey Road – than of lightweight stuff like Blind Date or Surprise, Surprise. Hence we’re invited round to discuss a recent compilation of those golden years, Completely Cilla:1963-1973, with its triumphant anthems such as Alfie and Anyone Who Had A Heart. In those songs her voice soared from girlish whisper to crockery-rattling roar.

Priscilla White, docker’s daughter from Liverpool’s toughest arrondissement, became Cilla Black thanks to a misprint in music paper Mersey Beat. But like Kylie, she’s on first-name terms with her public anyway. In her Cavern days she was known as Swinging Cilla, and to The Beatles as “Swinging Cyril”. Nobody even knew her second name. All this she tells me as she gabs and laughs. Cyril’s a born storyteller and 90 minutes flew. I barely covered a tenth of the subjects I’d intended.

********

I have an awful lot of questions. Is your memory good?

Well, if you remember the 60s, they say you weren’t there. But I was too busy. I was working hard to make the 60s great for everybody else.

And you weren’t off your head?

No. I was a good girl. And I remember my very first drink, in a club in Piccadilly. It was Mateus Rosé. I saw Mick Jagger having it and I literally said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” And you could put a candle in afterwards, cos it was a nice-shaped bottle.

Are you telling me you never took a drink in Liverpool?

No. We weren’t brought up that way. Your dad went to the pub and your mother stayed at home. But I do remember the cabinet being full at Christmas time and me and a girlfriend, aged 11, drinking a bottle of gin. I can’t stand the smell of gin to this day.

It’s amazing to think that clubs like the Cavern, or the Marquee in London, weren’t licensed for alcohol in those days.

They were coffee clubs! We were all kids, and we enjoyed the music. And I didn’t smoke. I smoked on Juke Box Jurybecause I saw John Lennon smoke the week before and I thought, It’s gotta be cool if John is smoking. So I lit up. And Brian Epstein told me off for that.

I worked in the Zodiac club and I did my first gig there, with The Big Three. I was listed in the Liverpool Echo as Swinging Priscilla. And The Big Three were the best band in Liverpool at the time. I mean, “The Beatles? Who?” Gerry & The Pacemakers were much bigger. It wasn’t until The Beatles went to Germany and came back a year later, that we kids really noticed them.

Then I had four jobs. I used to work on Saturday in a fashion store. I used to work in my lunch hour at the Cavern, hanging the coats up, sing at night, and work in an office round the corner. I’d work every hour God sent me to earn more money for clothes.

What were the girls wearing? We know about the beat group boys.

Well I was very different. I would buy a dress and wear it back to front, ignoring the darts at the front for ladies’ boobs. I just wanted to be different, even when I was 13. I was mousey-blonde and I bought a Camilatone rinse from Woolie’s, and I turned up bright red the next day. My headmistress sat me by a window with the sun blazing, to make an example of me. Well, I thought this was my spotlight! She could not have a done a worse thing, and I’ve kept it ever since.

In the early days on stage you were just doing guest spots?

Oh I’d sing with anybody. When I was 15 The Beatles were playing the Iron Door club. And my friends said, “Give Cilla a go,” to The Beatles. Who, I have to stress, weren’t the greatest band in Liverpool at the time. So John said, “OK, Cyril, gerrup and sing.” I’d heard them before doing Sam Cooke’s version of Summertime and I sang that, and from there it was word of mouth. I’m sure the groups asked me to get up because they wanted a break.

Were there many other girls? I know of Beryl Marsden, who was great. But did any girls form groups and play instruments?

Not that I know of. Brian asked the same question, “Are there any girl groups or singers?” John remembered me from the Iron Door and recommended me. But Beryl Marsden had a great voice, very much like Brenda Lee.

Why did girls not take up instruments?

It was a manly thing, wasn’t it? I mean, the only girl band I knew was the Ivy Benson Band, and it just seemed too masculine. Apart from Cherry Wainer and her organ, on Oh Boy! shows, you never really saw women play instruments, except the violin. In fact I don’t think it was until Chrissie Hynde, I think she made playing an instrument really cool.

How did you meet Brian Epstein? Did The Beatles set up an audition for you?

The Majestic Ballroom. That was a terrible thing. I was very nervous, and they were playing over the water, in Birkenhead. John had told Brian about me, and Brian asked would I go up and sing a song, and I was a total disaster. Girls did not sing in fellas’ keys and I just sounded like Yma Sumac on heat. I literally walked off the stage and got the next ferry home. I didn’t even see Brian after that. I knew I was dreadful.

Almost a year later I was in the Blue Angel club with a modern jazz band. I’d always loved Della Reese and I sang Bye Bye Blackbird. I didn’t know Brian was in the audience and after my performance he came up and said, “Why didn’t you sing like that at the Majestic Ballroom?” I said, “Well I was singing with proper musicians tonight, and I was singing in my key.” And then he signed me up.

When The Beatles broke big, we had all kinds of people coming up from London to manage everyone. And my father would say, “Oh, bloody Cockneys.” When Brian came, my father had to sign my contract because I wasn’t 21, and he said, “Yeah, I will sign the contract because I bought a piano at your dad’s store [NEMS] and it’s still going strong.” And that was the only reason why he signed with Brian Epstein.

The only thing was my name. My real name is White and my father said to Brian, “You’ll have to change the name back to White. Otherwise my friends down at the docks won’t believe she’s my daughter.” And Brian said, “Well I rather quite like the name of Black.” And he quietly got his own way. I couldn’t care less what colour. I could have been Cilla Green today.

You know how they always nicknamed dockers? Well, my father’s original nickname was Shiner, because he was immaculate, with his boots shined, spit and polish. But after I became famous, he was nicknamed The Frustrated Minstrel – “because he didn’t know if he was Black or White.”

And George Martin launched you with a Lennon & McCartney original?

Paul had a song that he used to sing at the lunchtime sessions, Love Of The Loved, and it was great when he gave me that. Then I get to the studio and I’m surrounded by proper musicians. And I hated it. I just didn’t see it at all. You’ve got to remember, I’m a kid who’s buying hit records every week, so I knew what was gonna be a hit. I said to Brian, “This is so not a hit, Brian, why do you put me with professional musos? I’ve gotta be with a rock band, and let it sound like Paul does it with The Beatles in the Cavern.”

Anyway, I was overruled and it wasn’t a big hit, but it was enough. And I had a bit of chatter and the Liverpool cheek, so I made a name that way. I remember it being played on Juke Box Jury and it was voted a miss, and I totally agreed with them.

You mentioned you were also a panellist on Juke Box Jury?

Yeah. Billy Fury had a record out, I voted that a miss. Heinz was on, and I told the truth. I remember David Jacobs saying to me, “Isn’t there anything you like about this record?” and I said “Yeah, the hole in the middle.” But like an idiot, I was not a pro, and if the camera’s going to left, you just know there’s somebody in the hot seat. [Each week one act would suddenly emerge from behind a screen to meet the panel.] But thicko didn’t, and then this poor Heinz person came out and shook my hand. I was mortified. Luckily I know a bit more about television today than I did then.

How did you find the songs that really made your name?

Brian had gone to America with the Boys, and I was still buying records. I just had a thirst for rock’n’roll music. I used to look in Billboard magazine for anyone with a girl-sounding name in the Top 100, and I spotted Dionne Warwick, at 77 or something. And I went into NEMS and asked for this record to listen to, and I really was blown away. I couldn’t wait for Brian to come back from America. He said “I’ve got a Number 1 hit record for you!” I said, “No, I’ve got the next hit record for me.” In fact we both had Dionne Warwick singing Anyone Who Had A Heart. We went to see George and Brian said, “I’ve got a Number 1 for my Cilla.” Then George played it and he said, “D’you know what? That would be ideal for Bassey.” Cos he also produced her. Brian said, “I don’t think so…”

And You’re My World, I owe to Brian. He found that and said, “This is going to be your second Number 1.” I loved Anyone Who Had A Heart because it was so different, but You’re My World was an out-and-out ballad and I’m a rock’n’roll singer at heart. I didn’t think I could do this song any justice at all. I thought, “Is this song me? Isn’t it more like that lady who used to sing and cry every time?”

Vikki Carr?

I thought, “I’m turning into Vikki Carr, and I’m a rock’n’roll singer.” But I put my faith in Brian and he was right. It was my second Number 1. Unbelievable.

Had you met your future husband (and eventual manager) Bobby Willis by this stage?

Oh yes. Bobby was writing songs for me as well. And I was his tape recorder. You’ve got to remember it was reel-to-reel in those days, not even cassettes, and I’d be standing at the bus-stop when he’d get an idea, and woe betide me if I forgot the tune.

Before Brian’s death, was Bobby a sort of personal manager to you?

It was a hard life for girl singers in those days. You couldn’t come back from a gig and go into a bar, because you’d be regarded as a “lady of the night”. Television finished at 11.30, restaurants weren’t open, so you had to have some cold salad left in the room. And if you’ve done a show, you’re hyper on adrenalin. You’ve got to come down from that. So Bobby was ideal in every way. He’d fight people off if they got in the way. I could go into a bar just to have a chat after a show, because I was up there and I had no way of coming down.

Did you mix much with the other girl singers of the time? Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Sandie Shaw and so on?

Well we were all working. In a word, no, we didn’t mix together. Actually I hung out with Dusty more, because I was a goody-goody two-shoes and she would invite me to parties with her mum and dad. I later found out why she was inviting me. She told me, “Well, my mum and dad are in town and you make it respectable!” So I was closest to Dusty. I was friends with Sandie and I was friends with Lu, and Pet Clark. And if they were to walk in here today it would be great.

How did you find the transition to London?

I hated London with a passion. Because the West End isn’t the real London. I lived in a hotel for nine months, which put me off. Brian had got me a run at the London Palladium, and I said to him, “Couldn’t you have got me the Liverpool Empire?” He said, “It won’t run that long, the last two shows have only run for four weeks.” Well, nine months later I was still there, wasn’t I?

That was two shows a night and three on a Saturday, and I would go through the night just to get home to Liverpool and have Sunday lunch. But my parents had not changed. My mother went to bingo in the evening and my father went to the pub. And I remember thinking, I’ve driven all the way up to have me Sunday lunch, and now I’m here on my own watching Sunday Night At The London Palladium with our Lassie, the dog.

Did you encounter Swinging London?

It wasn’t that swinging until The Beatles and I and everybody else came to London. Like I said earlier, I was busy making it swing for other people.

But I remember Brian taking me to the Ad Lib. He said, “I know I’m going to regret this, because you’ll never be out of the place.” And he was so right. The Ad Lib was the place to go when you’d finished working. So it was great to see the Stones there, the Beatles there, you could have a steak sarnie, great music, very loud, what was there not to like about it?

Then TV seemed to take you away from music.

Well, once I got married and had the children, I found television so easy. Money for old rope, though I shouldn’t say that. It just fitted in. I couldn’t go back to travelling all over the country, singing, and have babies at the same time. So television was great for me, cos it meant one day a week I’d rehearse, do the show, then I was back at home. And something that I loved. I was like a duck to water doing TV.

The biggest thing was when Paul rang me, I was literally on the floor playing album tracks the BBC had sent me for an opening, it had to be all razzamatazz, a big opening, and Paul said, “You don’t have that personality. You should be inviting people into your home rather than you going into theirs.” And he was so right, and hence Step Inside Love.

Next year will be your 50th anniversary in the business. Any plans?

Well, if God spares me…. Both ITV and BBC are in talks. But I don’t sing any more. I went to a 60s party last night, with Savage. There was a tribute band, and the singer came over and asked would I like to go up, they know all my stuff. I said No, I don’t do it any more. I don’t even sing in the showerthese days…

From the August 2012 issue of The Word.

 

 

 

Trim, chipper and chatty, Cilla Black shimmies around her kitchen deciding between tea, coffee and champagne. She plumps for the fizz, then curls up on a sofa in the living room. But over the next 90 minutes she scarcely takes a sip. Maybe it’s a prop. Or perhaps she just talks too much.

 

She gabs and laughs, and laughs some more. She’s back, she says, from two weeks in Barbados. It was her 69thbirthday. Last night she was on the town with “Savage”, which is what she calls her friend Paul O’Grady (the alter ego of Lily). Cilla’s small talk is like that. It’s a world where Ringo is “Ritchie” and The Beatles are “the Boys”. Even Lulu is “Lu”.

 

We’re in a flat in central London. She used to share it with her husband of 30 years, Bobby Willis, until his death in 1999. Now she’s a grandmother and looking, you would have to say, every inch on top of her game.

 

Cilla swam into the nation’s consciousness nearly 50 years ago. She sang smart pop hits that were crafted for her by Lennon and McCartney. She seemed in effect to be The Beatles’ Little Sister. Her set took in some very hip material by Burt Bacharach and Randy Newman, who both remain admirers. (So were the Elvises Presley and Costello.) But in the later 1960s, as pop turned psychedelic and hard rock ruled, Cilla stuck with showbiz. And the telly transformed her into Scousewife Superstar.

 

Her first manager Brian Epstein doted on her. Almost the last act of his life was to negotiate a BBC TV series (Macca wrote its theme song). But now she maintains she is prouder of her music – most of it made with George Martin at Abbey Road – than of lightweight stuff like Blind Dateor Surprise, Surprise. Hence we’re invited round to discuss a recent compilation of those golden years, Completely Cilla:1963-1973, with its triumphant anthems such as Alfieand Anyone Who Had A Heart. In those songs her voice soared from girlish whisper to crockery-rattling roar.

 

Priscilla White, docker’s daughter from Liverpool’s toughestarrondissement, became Cilla Black thanks to a misprint in music paper Mersey Beat. But like Kylie, she’s on first-name terms with her public anyway. In her Cavern days she was known as Swinging Cilla, and to The Beatles as “Swinging Cyril”. Nobody even knewher second name. All this she tells me as she gabs and laughs. Cyril’s a born storyteller and 90 minutes flew. I barely covered a tenth of the subjects I’d intended.

 

 

********

 

I have an awful lot of questions. Is your memory good?

 

Well, if you remember the 60s, they say you weren’t there. But I was too busy. I was working hard to make the 60s great for everybody else.

 

And you weren’t off your head?

 

No. I was a good girl. And I remember my very first drink, in a club in Piccadilly. It was Mateus Rosé. I saw Mick Jagger having it and I literally said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” And you could put a candle in afterwards, cos it was a nice-shaped bottle.

 

Are you telling me you never took a drink in Liverpool?

 

No. We weren’t brought up that way. Your dad went to the pub and your mother stayed at home. But I do remember the cabinet being full at Christmas time and me and a girlfriend, aged 11, drinking a bottle of gin. I can’t stand the smell of gin to this day.

 

It’s amazing to think that clubs like the Cavern, or the Marquee in London, weren’t licensed for alcohol in those days.

 

They were coffee clubs! We were all kids, and we enjoyed the music. And I didn’t smoke. I smoked on Juke Box Jurybecause I saw John Lennon smoke the week before and I thought, It’s gotta be cool if John is smoking. So I lit up. And Brian Epstein told me off for that.

 

I worked in the Zodiac club and I did my first gig there, with The Big Three. I was listed in the Liverpool Echoas Swinging Priscilla. And The Big Three were the best band in Liverpool at the time. I mean, “The Beatles? Who?” Gerry & The Pacemakers were much bigger. It wasn’t until The Beatles went to Germany and came back a year later, that we kids really noticed them.

 

Then I had four jobs. I used to work on Saturday in a fashion store. I used to work in my lunch hour at the Cavern, hanging the coats up, sing at night, and work in an office round the corner. I’d work every hour God sent me to earn more money for clothes.

 

What were the girls wearing? We know about the beat group boys.

 

Well I was very different. I would buy a dress and wear it back to front, ignoring the darts at the front for ladies’ boobs. I just wanted to be different, even when I was 13. I was mousey-blonde and I bought a Camilatone rinse from Woolie’s, and I turned up bright red the next day. My headmistress sat me by a window with the sun blazing, to make an example of me. Well, I thought this was my spotlight! She could not have a done a worse thing, and I’ve kept it ever since.

 

In the early days on stage you were just doing guest spots?

 

Oh I’d sing with anybody. When I was 15 The Beatles were playing the Iron Door club. And my friends said, “Give Cilla a go,” to The Beatles. Who, I have to stress, weren’t the greatest band in Liverpool at the time. So John said, “OK, Cyril, gerrup and sing.” I’d heard them before doing Sam Cooke’s version of Summertimeand I sang that, and from there it was word of mouth. I’m sure the groups asked me to get up because they wanted a break.

 

Were there many other girls? I know of Beryl Marsden, who was great. But did any girls form groups and play instruments?

 

Not that I know of. Brian asked the same question, “Are there any girl groups or singers?” John remembered me from the Iron Door and recommended me. But Beryl Marsden had a great voice, very much like Brenda Lee.

 

Why did girls not take up instruments?

 

It was a manly thing, wasn’t it? I mean, the only girl band I knew was the Ivy Benson Band, and it just seemed too masculine. Apart from Cherry Wainer and her organ, on Oh Boy!shows, you never really saw women play instruments, except the violin. In fact I don’t think it was until Chrissie Hynde, I think she made playing an instrument really cool.

 

How did you meet Brian Epstein? Did The Beatles set up an audition for you?

 

The Majestic Ballroom. That was a terrible thing. I was very nervous, and they were playing over the water, in Birkenhead. John had told Brian about me, and Brian asked would I go up and sing a song, and I was a total disaster. Girls did not sing in fellas’ keys and I just sounded like Yma Sumac on heat. I literally walked off the stage and got the next ferry home. I didn’t even see Brian after that. I knew I was dreadful.

 

Almost a year later I was in the Blue Angel club with a modern jazz band. I’d always loved Della Reese and I sang Bye Bye Blackbird. I didn’t know Brian was in the audience and after my performance he came up and said, “Why didn’t you sing like that at the Majestic Ballroom?” I said, “Well I was singing with proper musicians tonight, and I was singing in my key.” And then he signed me up.

 

When The Beatles broke big, we had all kinds of people coming up from London to manage everyone. And my father would say, “Oh, bloody Cockneys.” When Brian came, my father had to sign my contract because I wasn’t 21, and he said, “Yeah, I will sign the contract because I bought a piano at your Dad’s store [NEMS]and it’s still going strong.” And that was the only reason why he signed with Brian Epstein.

 

The only thing was my name. My real name is White and my father said to Brian, “You’ll have to change the name back to White. Otherwise my friends down at the docks won’t believe she’s my daughter.” And Brian said, “Well I rather quite like the name of Black.” And he quietly got his own way. I couldn’t care less what colour. I could have been Cilla Green today.

 

You know how they always nicknamed dockers? Well, my father’s original nickname was Shiner, because he was immaculate, with his boots shined, spit and polish. But after I became famous, he was nicknamed The Frustrated Minstrel – “because he didn’t know if he was Black or White.”

 

And George Martin launched you with a Lennon & McCartney original?

 

Paul had a song that he used to sing at the lunchtime sessions, Love Of The Loved, and it was great when he gave me that. Then I get to the studio and I’m surrounded by proper musicians. And I hated it. I just didn’t see it at all. You’ve got to remember, I’m a kid who’s buying hit records every week, so I knewwhat was gonna be a hit. I said to Brian, “This is sonot a hit, Brian, why do you put me with professional musos? I’ve gotta be with a rock band, and let it sound like Paul does it with The Beatles in the Cavern.”

 

Anyway, I was overruled and it wasn’t a big hit, but it was enough. And I had a bit of chatter and the Liverpool cheek, so I made a name that way. I remember it being played on Juke Box Juryand it was voted a miss, and I totally agreed with them.

 

You mentioned you were also a panellist on Juke Box Jury?

 

Yeah. Billy Fury had a record out, I voted that a miss. Heinz was on, and I told the truth. I remember David Jacobs saying to me, “Isn’t there anythingyou like about this record?” and I said “Yeah, the hole in the middle.” But like an idiot, I was not a pro, and if the camera’s going to left, you just know there’s somebody in the hot seat. [Each week one act would suddenly emerge from behind a screen to meet the panel.]But thicko didn’t, and then this poor Heinz person came out and shook my hand. I was mortified. Luckily I know a bit more about television today than I did then.

 

How did you find the songs that really made your name?

 

Brian had gone to America with the Boys, and I was still buying records. I just had a thirst for rock’n’roll music. I used to look in Billboardmagazine for anyone with a girl-sounding name in the Top 100, and I spotted Dionne Warwick, at 77 or something. And I went into NEMS and asked for this record to listen to, and I really was blown away. I couldn’t wait for Brian to come back from America. He said “I’ve got a Number 1 hit record for you!” I said, “No, I’vegot the next hit record for me.” In fact we both had Dionne Warwick singing Anyone Who Had A Heart. We went to see George and Brian said, “I’ve got a Number 1 for my Cilla.” Then George played it and he said, “D’you know what? That would be ideal for Bassey.” Cos he also produced her. Brian said, “I don’t think so…

 

And You’re My World, I owe to Brian. He found that and said, “This is going to be your second Number 1.” I loved Anyone Who Had A Heartbecause it was so different, but You’re My Worldwas an out-and-out ballad and I’m a rock’n’roll singer at heart. I didn’t think I could do this song any justice at all. I thought, “Is this song me? Isn’t it more like that lady who used to sing and cry every time?”

 

Vikki Carr?

 

I thought, “I’m turning into Vikki Carr, and I’m a rock’n’roll singer.” But I put my faith in Brian and he was right. It was my second Number 1. Unbelievable.

 

Had you met your future husband (and eventual manager) Bobby Willis by this stage?

 

Oh yes. Bobby was writing songs for me as well. And I was his tape recorder. You’ve got to remember it was reel-to-reel in those days, not even cassettes, and I’d be standing at the bus-stop when he’d get an idea, and woe betide me if I forgot the tune.

 

Before Brian’s death, was Bobby a sort of personal manager to you?

 

It was a hard life for girl singers in those days. You couldn’t come back from a gig and go into a bar, because you’d be regarded as a “lady of the night”. Television finished at 11.30, restaurants weren’t open, so you had to have some cold salad left in the room. And if you’ve done a show, you’re hyper on adrenalin. You’ve got to come down from that. So Bobby was ideal in every way. He’d fight people off if they got in the way. I could go into a bar just to have a chat after a show, because I was up there and I had no way of coming down.

 

Did you mix much with the other girl singers of the time? Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Sandie Shaw and so on?

 

Well we were all working. In a word, no, we didn’t mix together. Actually I hung out with Dusty more, because I was a goody-goody two-shoes and she would invite me to parties with her Mum and Dad. I later found out why she was inviting me. She told me, “Well, my Mum and Dad are in town and you make it respectable!” So I was closest to Dusty. I was friends with Sandie and I was friends with Lu, and Pet Clark. And if they were to walk in here today it would be great.

 

How did you find the transition to London?

 

I hated London with a passion. Because the West End isn’t the real London. I lived in a hotel for nine months, which put me off. Brian had got me a run at the London Palladium, and I said to him, “Couldn’t you have got me the Liverpool Empire?” He said, “It won’t run that long, the last two shows have only run for four weeks.” Well, nine months later I was still there, wasn’t I?

 

That was two shows a night and three on a Saturday, and I would go through the night just to get home to Liverpool and have Sunday lunch. But my parents had not changed. My mother went to bingo in the evening and my father went to the pub. And I remember thinking, I’ve driven all the way up to have me Sunday lunch, and now I’m here on my own watching Sunday Night At The London Palladiumwith our Lassie, the dog.

 

Did you encounter Swinging London?

 

It wasn’t that swinging until The Beatles and I and everybody else came to London. Like I said earlier, I was busy making it swing for other people.

 

But I remember Brian taking me to the Ad Lib. He said, “I know I’m going to regret this, because you’ll never be out of the place.” And he was so right. The Ad Lib was theplace to go when you’d finished working. So it was great to see the Stones there, the Beatles there, you could have a steak sarnie, great music, very loud, what was there not to like about it?

 

Then TV seemed to take you away from music.

 

Well, once I got married and had the children, I found television so easy. Money for old rope, though I shouldn’t say that. It just fitted in. I couldn’t go back to travelling all over the country, singing, and have babies at the same time. So television was great for me, cos it meant one day a week I’d rehearse, do the show, then I was back at home. And something that I loved. I was like a duck to water doing TV.

 

The biggest thing was when Paul rang me, I was literally on the floor playing album tracks the BBC had sent me for an opening, it had to be all razzamatazz, a big opening, and Paul said, “You don’t have that personality. You should be inviting people into yourhome rather than you going into theirs.” And he was so right, and hence Step Inside Love.

 

Next year will be your 50thanniversary in the business. Any plans?

 

Well, if God spares me…. Both ITV and BBC are in talks. But I don’t sing any more. I went to a 60s party last night, with Savage. There was a tribute band, and the singer came over and asked would I like to go up, they know all my stuff. I said No, I don’t do it any more. I don’t even sing in the showerthese days…

 

 

2018-08-11T15:01:29+00:00